iMail for Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama Delivers Ringing Appeal for Health Care Reform

Speaking before a rare joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama pressed lawmakers for an end to the “bickering” and for immediate action in passing comprehensive health care reform.

“I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last,” the president told Congress, as he urged members to push politics aside and think about the 46 million Americans currently living without health insurance, and the millions more paying thousands of dollars into plans rigged with loopholes, high deductibles, and inadequate coverage.

“Our collective failure to meet this challenge – year after year, decade after decade – has led us to the breaking point,” said President Obama. “Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy.”

President Obama stood strongly behind his promise to provide all Americans with affordable, quality health care with consumer protections that prohibit insurance companies from dropping coverage, denying coverage because of preexisting conditions, and charging exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses. He reiterated his goal of creating a market of insurance options, known as an “exchange,” to include a public option that will promote competition and provide those without coverage with affordable options to choose from. And, he reassured the American people that the plan does nothing to harm Medicare – in fact, it’ll provide the program a much-needed boost and sustainability. Obama also promised that no one will be forced to change their plans or their doctor. And, that the bill will not add to the country’s $1 trillion plus deficit, but rather significantly shrink it.

Click here for a transcript of the president’s remarks to Congress.

For more information about health reform, click here.

Local President Opposes Tax Breaks for Foreign Steel

Ohio Local 1943 President and Directing Business Representative Scott Rich testified this week in Washington D.C. on behalf of hundreds of IAM members employed at AK Steel in Middletown, OH. The IAM members are concerned that their jobs could be at risk if the U.S. Foreign Trade Zone Board approves an exemption for duty payments on raw materials used in export production for ThyssenKrupp, a German steel manufacturer.

“This is a classic example of a foreign-owned company seeking an unfair advantage at the expense of U.S. workers and taxpayers,” said Eastern Territory GVP Lynn Tucker. “We need a thorough review of any deal that would enable a company based outside of North America to receive better than domestic companies, to the detriment of our workers.”

ThyssenKrupp’s application for the duty-exempt status follows the construction of a new carbon and stainless steel plant near Mobile, AL, which was chosen after an incentive-packed bidding war.

“If approved, this exemption would allow ThyssenKrupp to import raw materials duty free,” said Rich. “No other steel company in the United States, including ours, has such a designation.  “With our mill and most every other mill running well below capacity, it seems unnecessary to us for the federal government to advantage a foreign company over domestic manufacturers,” said Rich. “We sincerely hope they consider the impact this decision could have on our jobs, our industry and our economy.”

Ohio Welcomes President’s Labor Day Remarks

President Barack Obama chose the AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic in Cincinnati, OH, to deliver remarks that included an eloquent reminder about the contributions of the American Labor Movement: “So let us never forget: much of what we take for granted – the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, health insurance, paid leave, pensions, Social Security, Medicare – they all bear the union label. . . . So even if you’re not a union member, every American owes something to America’s labor movement,” said Obama. “It was the American worker – union men and women – who returned from World War II to make our economy the envy of the world. It was labor that helped build the largest middle class in history. So even if you’re not a union member, every American owes something to America’s labor movement…”

Several thousand union members and their families cheered the president’s remarks at the Labor Day event, which was hosted by the IAM’s own Doug Sizemore, who also serves as the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Cincinnati AFL-CIO. Sizemore introduced AFL-CIO retiring president, John Sweeney, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka and other labor leaders from Ohio, including Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

Show Your Support – Drive a Union-Made Vehicle

For those who want to drive union-made wheels, the United Auto Workers union has released its 2010 vehicle guide.  The guide provides a list of cars, trucks, pickups, vans, CUVs and SUVs made in the U.S. and Canada by UAW and Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union members.

“The U.S. auto industry has faced incredible challenges during the past year,” says UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “Our members have responded with total dedication and commitment to building quality at every step of the manufacturing process, and consumers are taking notice.

“When customers visit the showroom to look at vehicles made by our members, they’re going to find top-quality cars and trucks in every price range and in every product category.”

For the complete list of union-made vehicles, click here.

Wisconsin Member Wins ‘Trip of a Lifetime’

Wisconsin Rapids, WI, Local 655 President Pat Stashek has won a “dream hunting” expedition on the “Escape to the Wild” television show.
Stashek, a maintenance department millwright at the NewPage mill in Biron, WI, won the appearance after applying to the show’s network. He’s scheduled to hunt caribou in Manitoba, Canada, in mid-September. The episode will air at a later date on the Versus channel.

The Union Sportsmen Alliance member is the third IAM member to win a caribou hunt on the outdoor show. He says winning the trip was a dream come true. “I always wanted to go after a big game animal,” he told the Wisconsin Rapid Tribune.

“Escape to the Wild” is a program of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) that takes members of AFL-CIO-affiliated unions on the hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime.